-6:19: ABC has glossy graphics swirling Ayers's book "Fugitive Days" at us. The book is being "re-released." Oh! So this is a book tour.
-5:58: The interviewer, Chris Cuomo, insists "you did have a meaningful relationship with Barack Obama, didn't you?" Ayers does nothing but evade. He knew him like thousands of others, and "like millions of others worldwide, I wish I knew him better." That answer is pure bullshit.
-5:16: Cuomo attempts to follow up: "You used the term 'family friend'..." Cuomo is obviously working from notes, trying to act the part of a reporter capable of asking follow-up questions, and Ayers has to tell us where the phrase "family friend" came from, because it's not something Ayers just said, it's something he wrote in an afterword to his book. Ayers then launches into his prepped statement about how he didn't want to talk during the campaign, when people were using a "dishonest narrative," but he knew Obama on a "professional" level, like "thousands of other people." "Thousands of other people" is Ayers's favorite phrase.
-4:12. Yeah, he and Obama were on a board together, Ayers concedes quickly when pressed, then moves to the purely abstract level: This notion of "guilt by association" is wrong. And you know what the "interesting" thing is? Voters didn't buy the argument of guilt by association. Ugh! I don't care about your political analysis! Tell us the facts that you know. As for the shortcomings of guilt by association, we can do our own analysis. What you have that we don't is the information about the substance of the relationship, and you're being as slippery as possible. You think we don't notice, don't you? Ayers is relying on our dullness.
-3:11: Cuomo says that people do want to know about a candidate's relationships. This sets Ayers off justifying his actions during the Vietnam War era: Part of the "dishonest narrative" was to "demonize" him. "Let's remember, what you call a 'violent past' -- that was at a time when thousands of people were being murdered by our government ever month." Ha! I told you "thousands of people" is his favorite phrase. "And those of us who fought to end that war were actually on the right side. So if we want to replay that history, I would reject the whole notion that demonizing me or the Weather Underground is relevant."
-2:34: Cuomo cuts off Ayers -- who was about to plunge into a second point -- to try to deal with the question whether Ayers's violent past is relevant to what we think of Obama. Cuomo has a hypothetical: If McCain had launched his political career in the home of some anti-abortion activist who'd blown up clinics -- "but never hurt anyone" -- don't you think we'd find that relevant? Ayers's argument is that during the Vietnam War, the despicable acts were being carried out by our government. So then, the anti-abortion terrorism would be fine too if only we believe the abortion is murder? We can see that Ayers is simply unrepentant, and the hypothetical falls by the wayside.
-1:53: Ayers says he never hurt anyone (as if co-conspirators are not responsible for each other's acts) and repeats his oft-quoted self-justification: "I don't think we did enough." He adds: "Just as today, I don't think we've done enough to stop these wars. And I think we must all recognize the injustice of it and do more." So if Obama associates with Ayers now, he is associating with someone who thinks the United States has conducted and continues to conduct despicable unjust wars that must be stopped. If Obama had presented himself as having this kind of militant, anti-war attitude -- this fundamental belief that the American government is doing evil in this world -- he would never have been trusted to become Commander in Chief.
-1:19: Pressed again on the relationship, Ayers lectures us again at the abstract level: "guilt by association... has a long and tragic history in America." See how he makes that rhetorical move every time? He's asked about something specific about himself, and he switches the subject to something much larger -- and more abstract. He also loves to remind us about America's failings. Don't look there. Look here.
-1:05: Now, he's driveling on about how Obama is willing to listen to "a lot of people, from a lot of walks of life." Oh, I would guess Obama is willing to talk to thousands of people.
-0:44: Cuomo sees an opening. Oh, so then Obama sought you out. He wanted to hear from you. That means something. Ayers denies that Obama sought him out. "The truth is we came together in the civic community, around issues of school improvement, around issues of fighting for the rights of poor neighborhoods to have jobs and housing and so on. And that's the full extent of our relationship." That is Ayers's best point, really, and it's odd that he didn't say that in the beginning. If Ayers really cared primarily about helping Obama, he would have made this his central talking point.
-0:20: Ayers follows up that best point with a mini-rant, which ends the segment: "This idea that we need to know more -- like there's some dark, hidden secret link -- is just a myth, and it's a myth thrown up by people who wanted to kind of exploit the politics of fear, and I think it's a great credit to the American people that those politics were rejected. The idea that we should continue to be frightened and worried, you know, barricaded -- is falling down, and it should."
The idea that we need to know more is a myth? He's telling us we shouldn't need to know more, that we're paranoid or fear-mongers if we demand more information. Ridiculous! If we think there is more information, we get to ask. If there truth is there's nothing more to the story, fine. But to condemn us for wanting to know more is absurd.
We didn't find out enough about the man we elected President. We were made to feel that it was wrong to ask. I don't need to hear an avowed terrorist bitching about other people supposedly "exploit[ing] the politics of fear." A terrorist deals in fear, and I assume he'd like to control what inspires our fears. Fear the American government, he says, but don't fear Barack Obama.
Don't look there! Look here! I'll decide for myself what ought to be feared.
IN THE COMMENTS: Joan said:
How disappointing the Cuomo did not talk to Ayers at all about his agenda for school reform, and whether Obama agrees with those ideas. We can all agree that Obama does not support terrorists and repudiates what Ayers did with the WU. What is of most concern to me is what Obama thinks of Ayers' present work, which is just horrific for all that it is nonviolent.
AND: There is a second part to the interview. Here. It looks like the "book tour" part of the interview that Cuomo alludes to in Part 1. Feel free to watch it. Maybe I will later, but for now, life goes on without William Ayers.